Tuesday, December 18, 2007

The Sweetest Thing

"Sweet is the Providence that overrules us"

-St. Elizabeth Ann Seton

I don't get this. At least, I didn't get it right away, and I still don't fully grasp the significance of giving God one's assent to override, in a sense. He's ultimately in charge and certainly doesn't need our cooperation, so why even ask for it? Overruling sounds to me like an aggressive force, and what can be sweet about that?

And if He's going to call the shots ultimately, why on earth does He need/want my input? Why the Annunciation, why the request of Mary, the sublime humility of God stooping to earth to request her cooperation in His divine plan... her fiat was not incidental, but instrumental to the plan of salvation history. It doesn't make sense for Him to ask nicely for that which He's planning on taking by force no matter what. Or does it?

My favorite scripture has long been Jeremiah 29:11 ... For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord... plans to give you hope and a future... He knows the plans, great. I often pray, "Lord, show me your will for my life. Give me an understanding and an awareness of your plans..."

I don't think it's wrong to pray this way, but it occurred to me during Mass last night for the first time that maybe, just maybe, I needn't be so concerned with having His will revealed to me. Before I venture further down the path of determinism, let me explain what I mean. You see, when I pray asking for understanding and insight, what I'm really asking Him for is creative rights. In other words, any given prayer by me could read "Lord, show me your will for this particular situation (so I can evaluate Your plan and either accept or reject the terms You have set for me)." I'm not merely asking for revelation or clarity so that I can take the next step on the path He is illuminating; I'm asking for control, for editorial privileges.

It's no secret that I'm a control freak. What's strange about that? I'm the oldest child in my family, impossibly choleric, and accustomed to getting my own way. So naturally I ask God for things and then wait expectantly for Him to deliver. On my terms. And I'll stand there impatiently until He does so, with arms crossed and toes tapping, watching and waiting for my order. For my order? Well, yeah, you know, for my order, for the triple grande nonfat sugar-free vanilla latte, extra hot. The one I ordered, just the way I like it. Don't try to give me anything different, even if you're sure I'd enjoy it. I know what I want. And this is it. And I'm not moving until I get it. Sound familiar?

So about this sweet Providence, then. And God knowing the plans He has for me. Does it really matter whether or not I know the plans? This is where my train of thought came to a crashing halt last night. He knows, I don't, and it really doesn't matter. He's not asking for my input, necessarily, He is asking for my consent, for my fiat, for my willed surrender to His will, and essentially, He's asking for my trust. Our conversations usually go something like this:

Me: "This isn't how I planned things going..."
God: "Do you trust me?"

Me: "I wanted that to work out differently."
God: "Do you trust me?"

Me: "I have a plan... it's very detailed and specific... and time sensitive!"
God: "Do you trust me?"

Me: "Well, if You're sure You know what You're doing..."
God: (probably laughing) "Yes, I think I do Jenny."

Well okay then, bring it on Lord.


  1. Another wonderful post. For some reason, though, when I read that dialogue at the end, Rob's voice came through as God's....

  2. Hahaha!, totally!!!

    You have credit cards?


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